by Brenée Goforth
Media Manager & Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
This week, Carolina Journal’s Don Carrington reported on the approval process for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) so far. The story is proving to be more complex than many first believed.
Jan. 13, 2018. Duke Energy lobbyist Kathy Hawkins asked Ken Eudy, Gov. Roy Cooper’s senior adviser, to help expedite[, Kevin Cherry,] a state official’s signature on an agreement tied to Duke’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. Hawkins told Eudy the state needed to sign the agreement before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would issue a permit for ACP contractors to begin cutting trees.
Eudy agreed, but when Eudy contacted N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNR) Deputy Secretary Kevin Cherry, he learned Cherry had already signed the Programmatic Agreement and sent it off to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Rather than report back to Kathy Hawkins with the news, he instead requested Cherry “recall” his signature so that Eudy may review the agreement. According to Carrington:
Cherry emailed a request to his FERC contact Kevin Bowman asking to recall his signature page. Cherry said he “signed this form by mistake.”
… [However,] Cherry’s explanation to Bowman doesn’t match the official record. Documents show Cherry had reviewed the agreement before signing it. Eudy had initiated the recall.
Eudy was in charge of monitoring the progress of permits for the ACP. He was also negotiating a related $57.8 million discretionary fund and attempting to broker a deal between Duke Energy and solar providers. Curiously, one such water quality permit was issued to Duke Energy the same day Gov. Cooper announced Duke – along with the other ACP partners – agreed to bankroll the $57.8 million discretionary fund.
According to Carrington:
The $57.8-million fund caused immediate controversy. Cooper would have controlled the fund without legislative oversight, unlike other money that flows into state accounts. The General Assembly redirected Cooper’s fund to the school systems in the eight N.C. counties affected by the pipeline. The General Assembly has also convened a special committee to investigate the pipeline permitting process and the fund. Some lawmakers have called the approval process extortion. The committee has hired outside investigators to review the process.